Utah women own nearly 84,000 businesses statewide, and generate more than $14 billion in revenue, but when it comes time for CEO awards, women are rarely recognized. "As different CEO award lists came out, these female CEOs were left off in favor of male CEOs with less successful companies doing less revenue. Rather than try to influence the existing awards to include them, we decided to make our own awards," says Sego Co-founder and Co-Founder of Convoi Trent Mano.
But Mano, along with co-founders Allison Lew of Braid, Amy Stellhorn of Big Monocle, and Ken Frei of Convoi, didn't create an awards gala just for the sake of creating an awards gala. Lew explains, "The Sego Awards provided us an opportunity to increase visibility for women entrepreneurs through the Sego Awards not just to celebrate them, but also get them on the radar with our community of news outlets, investors, and entrepreneurs." And the event did indeed increase visibility for those women entrepreneurs. There were many finalists with whom I was not familiar, but was able to quickly google and learn what amazing things they are doing with their thriving companies.
The finalists fell into seven different categories; Student Founder, Highest Revenue, Innovation In Technology, Social Innovation, Social Media, Fastest Growing Company, E-Commerce, and a special Advocacy award, and each category had a second and first place winner. The winners were announced on the evening of May 11 at the Awards Gala at Sundance Resort. Winners included Emily Smith of Mentionables, Marissa Barlow of Nani, Shauna Smith of Four Foods Group, Teresa Whitehead of Citiwide Home Loans, Ayde Soto of Simple Citizen, Sunny Washington of Because Learning, Neylan McBaine of Better Days 2020, Sara Day of Even Stevens, Shea McGee of Studio McGee, Rachel Parcell of Pink Peonies, Rachel Nilsson of Rags, Jenny Wecker of Fawn Design, Vanessa Quigley of Chatbooks, Buffy Bradley of Agnes and Dora, and Jeremey Andrus of Traeger and Sara Jones of Women Tech Council who both recieved an Advocacy award.
Winners were invited to share advice for the past and future selves, which made for engaging speeches enjoyed by attendees, who were also enjoying one of the best desserts I've ever had. Early Grey custard...who knew? Also, the salad had goat cheese in it which is nothing short of brilliance on the chef's part. What I'm saying is, both speech brevity and food quality is key to the average gala attendee's feelings about the event, and Sego nailed both. Chances are that they'll nail this event for years to come as they continue to recognize the women who have been flying under the radar.
"Throughout this year, we plan on further highlighting the finalists and winners for the 2018 Sego Awards and finding partners to further highlight the accomplishments of these women," Mano says. "We hope that new relationships between future collaborators, investors, clients, and friends will develop as a result of the Sego Awards," Lew adds.
The Sego founding team is already preparing for next year. "We had over 200 nominations and applications, and expect much more than that next year," Mano says. "We're looking forward to a full year to plan and promote the Sego Awards, while discovering more deserving female founders and CEOs that are flying under the radar and aren't getting the acknowledgement they deserve."
At the end of the evening, all finalists were invited on stage for a group photo, and as I looked at this group of women, some of whom were pregnant, some of whom were holding babies, all of whom were happy to be there, it was difficult to not be taken back by all the amazing things these women are doing in and outside of their careers. I can't wait to celebrate them for years to come.